Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia told Parliament earlier this week that there were objections from a few states to tea getting the status of national drink.
The North East Tea Association (NETA) is not convinced by this. Their contention is that the declaration of hockey as the national game did not harm the prospects of cricket, football or other sports. NETA avers that if tea is recognised as India's national drink, it will in no way affect the growth and consumption of coffee or other competing beverages.
An ORG India study in 2008 found that 83 per cent of households in India consume tea. The penetration of tea in an Indian household was in the range of 96-99 per cent in both urban and rural areas.
According to NETA sources, India annually produced 302 million kg of coffee and 988 million kg of tea.
"The annual coffee consumption in India is 108 million kg whereas tea consumption is 815 million kg. The per capita consumption of coffee is 75 gm whereas for tea it is 730 gm," they said.
"Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the main coffee-growing areas in India. Tea is grown in different regions, from the north to the south. Even the tea industry of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are in no way smaller in size than the coffee industry. About 60 per cent of Indian tea export is from these three states," they noted.
NETA in association with the Assam Tea Planters Association (ATPA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP) will be meeting Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi shortly to demand that India embrace tea as the national drink.